Spaniards in New Zealand, like the Chinese in Spain a month ago: "We see too many people too confident with the coronavirus"
A month ago, Spain was experiencing a normal situation. Soccer stadiums, subway cars, demonstrations, cinemas, discos ... Everything was full. Soon after that all changed, but many Chinese merchants located throughout the country had already started to close their establishments indefinitely or to prohibit entry to their stores before the State of Alarm decree, attending only through the window and with protection in the form of parabanes or plastic sheets to avoid contact with customers.
In Torrent, a Valencian city, who writes these lines witnessed one of these Chinese merchants pronounce a lapidary phrase: "Spaniards not well headed", in reference to a social attitude typical of normality, without a highly contagious and harmful virus growing every day. A month later, with the country paralyzed, it is other expatriates who have learned the lesson and decide to maximize their protection in a country still somewhat benevolent with the spread of the coronavirus: it is the Spaniards living in New Zealand, where confinement, in addition to having arrived later and despite having closed its borders, it is more lax and allows outdoor sports or walks, unlike in Spain.
"Most people go out for sports or go shopping without gloves or mask"
Marta Lozano (top image, right), Accounting Senior Specialist Madrid and resident in Wellington -exactly in the antipodes of Madrid-, explains that the measures against the coronavirus have been gradual in New Zealand, and that already in the month of April it is still allowed to go out for a walk or do sports, even in groups, to avoid the physical consequences of sedentary lifestyle. "They allow that greater freedom because, and it pains me to say it, people are more responsible and civic, in addition to having less population. But I think they will end up hardening it, as the cases continue to increase quite a bit every day."
Despite this continued increase, Marta perceives a certain excess of confidence regarding possible infections, which contrasts with the protection measures that she herself has imposed on herself, being aware of the state of the situation in Spain. "We Spaniards are taking more measures because we know what our country and our relatives are experiencing. We do not go out, only to make the purchase, and only one person. And we are protected, here most people go to the supermarket without gloves or mask, something that flakes me when I see them. " This overconfidence manifests itself in an unusual event: the country's own Minister of Health was caught skipping the confinement to go to the beach.
Several people playing outdoor sports in an Auckland park during the first weekend in April. Image: Cristian Rus.
A namesake from Barcelona, Marta E., is one of those who still has to access her job on a daily basis, at a capital management company in Queenstown. Outside of that obligation, he has suppressed his outings, even over the weekend. "I go from home to work and vice versa, but here I still see most of the people go for a walk, like my roommates." The connection with Spain has its impact. "The thousands of messages that come to us every day from there give us the perspective of the strength that COVID-19 can have." In New Zealand, the figures are much lower than in Spain, 1,160 infected and one dead at the time of writing, but what has been seen with countries like the United States reveals that the delay of outbreaks between countries does not mean that their effects are going to be minors if the appropriate measures are not taken.
A similar testimony is offered by Marisol Caravante (upper image, on the left), a Spanish actress who was taken by the New Zealand confinement on route through the countries of the area, such as Australia or the Philippines, as well as the country of the kiwis. After many juggling and strokes of luck to be able to prolong his stay there without (more) problems, he has ended up assuming security measures that go beyond those established by the government while living at a friend's house. "We have been there for ten days, helping her with the garden and painting the exterior of the house, we did not go out at all. She walks the dog and she does see people exercising outside," she says from Auckland. Marisol neither leaves nor wants to leave.
Voluntary and preventive confinement in the case of these Spanish expatriates comes from weeks ago. Pedro Serrano, a resident of Amberley, explains that the constant information that they consult in Spanish media makes the difference. "That makes us more aware of what is coming our way, while most New Zealanders are left with only the few minutes that appear on the newscast talking about Italy and sometimes Spain, or what they read in passing on social networks " He says that despite the fact that most homes have a garden, it is common to see parks full of people doing sports, although social distancing is usually respected.
"I have never seen so many people in the park in front of my house like now"
That relaxation is also appreciated by Néstor Martínez, who lives without leaving the house for anything except the essentials, together with her partner and her baby. "I think people around here don't understand how the situation is in Spain or Italy and are too relaxed." Denise Scalari combines in her blood two of the countries most affected by the coronavirus: Italian by birth and having lived in Spain for most of her life, now she sees how in New Zealand many people do not have the same level of consciousness as she about the destructive potential of the coronavirus.
Denise Scalari. Image transferred.
"Theoretically, people come out with the excuse of" exercising ", as the minister allowed, but in the park in front of my house there have never been as many people as now and I, honestly, choose times where people start to leave home and not every day. Like the supermarket, "says Denise from Auckland. However, he points out that this attitude in a society like New Zealand believes that it has more to do with a certain unconsciousness than with a lack of respect for norms and people.